A country that measures its wasted food in the tens of millions of tons ought not to also have a widespread and persistent hunger problem. Sadly, these irreconcilable conditions co-exist in contemporary America, where 1-in-6 people — and even more troubling, 1-in-5 children — do not have enough to eat.
Because the issue of domestic hunger receives precious little attention by the mainstream media, it is understandable that financially stable and reasonably well-fed Americans are often unaware that 33.5 adults and 16.7 million children in their own country experienced food insecurity in 2011. Conditions are especially dire in the 6.8 million American households that experienced what the USDA terms “very low food security,” a condition in which the eating patterns of one or more household members were repeatedly disrupted and food intake was reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food. Perhaps if the magnitude of America’s food insecurity problem and the long-term social, public health, and economic consequences of hunger were more commonly known, we would all have a harder time turning a blind eye to food waste.
The only “good thing” about America’s hunger problem is that it is solvable. Recovering and redirecting wasted food is an important part of the solution: by wasting just 5% less food, an additional 4 million Americans could be adequately fed. Recovering 15% of wasted food could feed 25 million Americans annually.